Letters

Dear Editor


You’re write, off course
I submit the following in support of my application for the post of noseweek’s resident pedant.
First of all; Nathan Cheiman (Letters, nose123), in the course of denying your damning accusations, suggested that the speed he had been doing in his Porsche (as reported by noseweek) was “a little short off the mark”. This should, of course, have read “short OF the mark”. Perhaps his attention could be drawn to this?

Then; in providing a gallus (look it up) apology to attorney Cheiman for these unfair charges, you proceeded to spell your “fulsome” apology with two “l”s. Shame.

Bruce MacDonald
Rondebosch

We have yet to assess the other 900 applicantsfor the job; will advise outcome in due course. –  Ed.

Nathan Cheiman was not candid in his letter. Reports at the time indicate that his bail was revoked when he tried to buy a false SA passport, and he stayed in custody until he pleaded guilty to tax fraud and was sentenced to eight years in jail, of which he served about four years – until released on parole.
 

Your apology was premature and naive. As someone who viewed you as a reborn sceptic I am disappointed in your gullibility.

“Root”
By email

Technically, he did not plead guilty to fraud, but to the statutory offence of signing a tax return while knowing the information it contained to be false. But we wrongly identified Cheiman as the attorney with whom ponzi operator Dean Rees had done his articles – and since that was the only legitimate reason we had for naming him and raking up his past, we owed him an apology. In any event, it appears that in certain circles speeding and tax evasion are not considered crimes, but rather as sport – games that have only one rule: don’t get caught.Ed.

Cheaper than you think
One should not forget the Master’s offices when it comes to judicial favours for sale (nose123).
Despite their assurances to the contrary, it can take months to have a letter of executorship issued by the Master of the Gauteng High Court. My Pretoria colleagues advise me that, subject to the payment of an incentive (I believe the going rate is R250), the letter of appointment in an estate will be issued within days.

An example: In November 2008 a friend passed away. In January 2009 his son-in-law and daughter passed away simultaneously. In May the three estates were reported to the Master’s Offices. I signed as Commissioner of Oaths and advised the heir that it would take a couple of months to get the appointments. He assured me he would get them the same day. I advised him that if he managed that, I’d kiss his ass.

That afternoon I got a call from a very amused colleague who advised me that I had to come and do some kissing. All it had required was three family-size KFC buckets, with Cokes, to get the letters of executorship within the hour.

The bad taste still lingers.

Name withheld
Kempton Park

Copyright or wrong?
In your article on copyright and MacDonald Netshitenzhe (nose 123), you perhaps accidentally let the cat out of the bag when you wrote that YOUNG WHITE lawyers don’t want to protest too much as they have to live with THEM. Go read it again. Who is THEM? You spoilt an otherwise good argument with that racist allusion. If you stick to pros and cons only, you are bound to find both blacks and whites in both camps.

Mateke
Gauteng

We wish we could say that race had nothing to do with it. The reference to white lawyers was a purely factual one: young IP lawyers are, unfortunately, still almost exclusively white. The “them” you refer to was not our usage; we were quoting those lawyers. So your ears – and a million others – started ringing, ding-dong, black-white. Yes, “us” and “them” are clearly words best avoided. ­– Ed

So it’s “Netshitenzhe’s lemon”, is it?

Yes, Dr Owen Dean is right when he says the proposed IP Laws Amendment Bill is “absurd” and will simply not work. I’m one of the many who objected to it and I’m still hoping it can be stopped.

But I don’t want to be associated with the snide racism of your article: the insinuation that when IP law was in white hands all was well (it wasn’t); that it was only after MacDonald Netshitenzhe took over as registrar that South Africa was “lumped with the likes of Nigeria” as a country in which copyright is not adequately protected (untrue); the assumption that the focus on traditional knowledge is driven by “the developing world wanting a piece of the action” (wrong); the sneering reference to traditional knowledge (reduced to Bushman art, Ndebele art, indigenous music, folklore “and the like” – all pretty primitive stuff, in other words). Then there’s the colonial superiority of your comment that the developed world (read “white”) develops things while the developing world (read “black”) doesn’t. 

Is noseweek capable of making a comment about a flawed process without bringing race into it? Was MacDonald Netshitenzhe really “untouchable” because of his “brother Joel”, or did you just make that one up because it suited the angle of the article?

You don’t know anything about the course of copyright legislation in South Africa. You don’t know why proposals made to the DTI in 1997 and 1999 to update the Copyright Act were shelved; I do know something about the pressures put upon MacDonald Netshitenzhe by a vociferous lobby claiming that the updates would be profoundly damaging to education.

I’m reminded of a nasty article in noseweek last year about John Tsebe, the National Librarian. Same standpoint: black man stuffs up. I wrote an angry response, and the editor’s comment was “Guess who is trying to suck up to the National Librarian?” which gave me a good laugh. So, in case you’re tempted: no, I’m, not trying to suck up to MacDonald Netshitenzhe.

 He didn’t comply when you asked him for comment? Perhaps he would have, had you spelled his name correctly.

Monica Seeber
By email

Oooh, ooh, ooh! A little presumptuous don’t you think? We know a great deal more on the subject than you dare suppose.

And on the subject of not sucking up to MacDonald Netshitenzhe: why is it, then, that we still keep hearing loud sucking noises?Ed.

Some background to the proposed Bill to protect rights to traditional knowledge – the so-called “TK Bill” – on which you have commented critically:

  • Government itself is divided on this Bill. The present draft is sponsored by the DTI, but other departments, such as Science & Technology and Arts & Culture are not in favour of the DTI approach, i.e. to incorporate TK into various existing acts dealing with intellectual property rights such as patents and copyright.
  • The Institute of IP Law, dedicated to ensuring that South Africa has world class IP legislation, has taken a critical (but sympathetic) stand on the TK Bill – for objective reasons based on accepted principles of IP law. The institute’s view is that, in order to protect rights in traditional knowledge, it would be best to introduce separate laws designed specifically for this unique purpose, and not to amend, and thereby compromise, South Africa’s existing IP Acts.   

Andre van der Merwe
Patent and Trade Mark Attorney
Gauteng
See editorial.

Rates fraud
While it’s not as bizarre as the case of Bunty Money (“Municipal Madness”, nose123), I’ve also recently received a demand from Van der Venter Mojapelo Inc – for outstanding rates on a property I sold seven years ago. On enquiring about this, the position adopted by these lawyers (or, rather, their call centre) was, in essence, that I need to prove I don’t owe the allegedly outstanding rates, despite never having been in arrears when I was the owner of the property. In fact I had paid rates in advance, in excess of the amount required, to secure all rates clearances in order to effect transfer of the property to the buyer those seven years ago.

To deal with this cowboy behaviour, can we – i.e. all affected noseweek readers – not institute a class action against the lawyers and their client, the Johannesburg rates department, for harassment and fraud?

Otto Holicki
Cresta
See Mr Nose: The sound of silence

Comprehensive fleecing
When I read your article about Platinum Africa (“Fleecing the Poor”, nose123) I thought it very similar to a problem my domestic employee is having with a company called Comprehensive Care – interestingly, also based in Bellville.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at both websites – they are almost identical (www.platinumafrica.com and www.comprehensivecare.co.za) and they operate from the same premises: Unit 3a, De Lange Street, Bellville!

Paul Grobler
By email

Prosecute the bank
According to Desiree Monajaga (Letters, nose123), the debt owing to Nedbank in respect of her credit card accounts was off-set by the bank against her savings account, without permission.

In terms of the provisions of the National Credit Act, the previously customary clause in bank credit agreements, which authorised the bank to satisfy a debt out of any account that the consumer has with it, is now prohibited.

Desiree must lodge a complaint with the National Credit Regulator and insist that the matter be properly investigated and prosecuted.

Anti Goliath
Durban

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